Jailed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, victims ask court to approve US$18.9m deal

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – More than half a dozen women who say they were assaulted or mistreated by Harvey Weinstein are asking a federal judge to approve an US$18.875 million (S$26.3 million) settlement they reached with the disgraced movie mogul.

The female actors and screenwriters sued in December 2017, alleging Weinstein Co, its officers and directors and Miramax, the studio Weinstein formerly ran, enabled his conduct.

Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence for sex crimes at a maximum security prison in upstate New York.

US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein last year threw out most of the claims in the lawsuit, including those alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, or Rico. What remained were claims against Harvey Weinstein himself for violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Weinstein reached a tentative US$47 million agreement to resolve many of the civil lawsuits against him in December, with the money to be paid by his insurance company, people familiar with the situation said at the time. About a third of the funds would go to lawyers, the people said.

More than 30 actresses and former company employees would share in the settlement, which would not require Weinstein to admit wrongdoing or pay any money personally, the New York Times reported.

Ms Elizabeth Fegan, an attorney for the women who sued in New York, said at a hearing last week that the settlement would resolve claims against Weinstein, former representatives of the Weinstein Co and other companies that he worked for or founded.

Weinstein Co was sold out of bankruptcy in 2018 to Lantern Capital Partners for about US$440 million, including debt. Mr Hellerstein has set a July 14 date for a hearing on the settlement.

The terms of a settlement set up a two-tier process to determine how much each woman gets. The range of payouts is from US$7,500 to US$750,000.

The women will submit claims and a court-appointed administrator will determine whether the claims are credible and how much the women should receive “based on an assessment of harm” to each.

New York Attorney-General Letitia James said her office helped to negotiate the settlement as part of a larger proposal for liquidation of the Weinstein Co and its parent company.

“After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some justice,” Ms James said in a statement.

But Mr Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer who represents several women with claims against Weinstein, called the deal “unfair and inequitable” and said he will file an objection in court.

“While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons,” Mr Wigdor said in a joint statement with attorney Kevin Mintzer.

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